Monday, March 4, 2013

who's at your table?

A few weeks ago I got a notification that I was mentioned on Twitter. My sister had re-tweeted Shauna Niequist, saying she was excited to be speaking in Newport Beach in just a few weeks--and then my sister tagged me and my good friend. We are all big Shauna fans.

I was actually introduced to Shauna's books by my little sis and her friends last year. I first read Bittersweet and it couldn't have been more perfect timing. I was in the midst of some bittersweet experiences, some quite similar to Shauna's. Then I read Cold Tangerines and loved it just as much. (Her blog has sample chapters you can read or listen to.)

I've been following Shauna through social media (aka legal stalking). I appreciate her honesty and realistic approach to life and faith. She doesn't believe in living in a Christian sub-culture. She is excited about going to the Jay-Z and Justin concert. I'm insanely jealous of that (and my sister, who is going too).

The chance to hear her in person, for just a 90min drive, was exciting. I debated greatly however. I'm gone from my home and my family for three days straight. And then when I'm home sometimes a lot of my time and energy is devoted to studying. I try to be as present, mentally and physically on the days I'm not at school.

But, I just couldn't pass it up. And although I know it was a sacrifice and self-less act, Bean gave me his blessing. He later said "this isn't something you can do anytime." I took in the recycling I've been saving (which drives Bean crazy) and got $12 which paid for more than half my ticket. Hey, when you are in nursing school and living on minimal income, every little bit counts.

Since I have a lot of friends who live in that area, I threw it out on Facebook to see if anyone else wanted to come too, and one of my BFF's (although I don't ever really use the term BFF) wanted to come too.

My sister's friends are big fans of Shauna also, so we had an entire table at the event.

Shauna was primarily speaking on her new book that comes out next month, Bread and Wine. It is about friendship and meals and the fellowship that happens at the table. Shauna and a group of friends get together once a month for a meal. They each bring various items. They eat, and connect and share life together. It's about community.

Shauna challenged us to do the same. To make sure we are at a "table."

I am blessed with some of the greatest friends. I have friends I have known since childhood and can pick up with in an instant. I have best friends that I may not talk to every day, but they know the most about me, my life, my experiences and what makes me who I am. I have friends with whom I have walked specific journeys and they are the only ones who can truly relate and understand. I have friends who have become family. I have family who are friends.

I was blessed to have two of my "friend worlds" collide when my lifelong best friend came to the brunch (just because I would be there and she lives in the area) and my wonderful friend with whom I have many shared experiences over the past few years. They now follow each other on Instagram. Kinda proud of that.

But still, I find myself lonely at times.

It is this life. This crazy, busy life full of commitments, kid activities, lack of time and funds. This life where I am going back to school at 35 while raising 3 children and cultivating a marriage. I've always lived in this in between space of a stay-home mom and a working (student) mom.

It is distance. Some of my best friends live far away enough that meeting for coffee takes a few hours and a lot of coordination. Or it takes a longer drive and at least half a day to spend time together.

It is me. I think sometimes I'm not the best friend to those around me. I feel like I don't know how to cultivate new friendships in this season of family and constant crazy. Maybe I don't know how to show I need friends. Or time with them.

A few months ago I had a realization. Which I feel like was affirmed in what Shauna was sharing.

What I truly need is community. I even shared this with a group a few months back as a prayer request. That in this new stage and season of life, I would find community.

It's so easy to be too busy. To be too caught up in your routine, in your to-do list. So easy to not reach out, thinking that others are too busy or uninterested.

I think I know who's at my table right now. Some of them I know well. There are others I don't know as well, but who I want to know better.

While I would love to do monthly dinners like Shauna and her friends, I don't know if that's feasible for life right now. Mine, and others. Maybe it is.

What I do know, is I'm going to pay attention to those around my table. Those I see in different parts of my life, those who I see in multiple parts of life. We may not be gathered at a table right now. We may be gathered at the Little League field or the park, during the coffee break at church or a park playdate. Summer is coming and it's easier to gather and commune.

Shauna says: "So Bread & Wine is about food, but more than that it’s about connection—the connections that are made when we screw up our courage and walk away from our fears, when we open the doors to our homes and our hearts and gather people around our tables." 

I'm going to do my best to cultivate community. I don't really know what it looks like. But I'm looking for it.

I cannot wait to read Shauna's new book and learn even more and glean from her experiences. I'm hoping in a few years she writes a book on motherhood. And a book on women in ministry would be cool too.

Let's gather around the table.

Shauna is our celebrity of 2013. In 2011 we met and shook hands with Rev. Run (something we were super excited about, but he wasn't as excited as us) and in 2012 everything in Kathy's life came to meeting Ameena Brown . Ameena was so warm and friendly--even the next day, when I almost hit her with my car, she still smiled at us and laughed with us!

Trailer #1: Bread and Wine

Trailer #2: Into The Mess